Saturday, May 28, 2016

[Herpetology • 2008] Excidobates captivus • Spotted Poison Frogs: Rediscovery of A Lost Species and A New Genus (Anura: Dendrobatidae) from northwestern Peru

Excidobates captivus from type locality, mouth of the Río Santiago, Departamento Amazonas, Peru.
Twomey & Brown, 2008. DOI: 10.1655/07-009.1

The Santiago poison frog, Adelphobates captivus, a species not seen in life since 1929, was recently rediscovered on an expedition to its type locality in northwestern Peru. The colors of this species, previously unknown, consist of a black dorsum with bright red-orange spots and yellow spots ventrally. We provide amendments to the original description as well as the first accounts of tadpole morphology, vocalization, and natural history. A Bayesian phylogenetic analysis suggests Adelphobates captivus and a species originally described as Dendrobates mysteriosus are sister species that form a monophyletic clade sister to Ranitomeya. We propose to clarify the taxonomic status of D. mysteriosus incertae sedis by erecting a new genus, Excidobates, to include mysteriosus and its sister taxon captivus. Members of this genus are distinguished from Ranitomeya by 11 site substitutions in their rrnS and rrnL sequences, well-developed first fingers, and pale spots on the ventral surfaces of the thighs.

Keywords: Dendrobatidae, Dendrobatoidea, Excidobates captivus comb. nov, Excidobates gen. nov, Emysteriosus comb. nov, Peru, Poison frogs, Systematics, Taxonomy

Excidobates captivus (Myers, 1982) 
Photo by E. Twomey:

Evan Twomey and Jason L. Brown. 2008. Spotted Poison Frogs: Rediscovery of A Lost Species and A New Genus (Anura: Dendrobatidae) from northwestern Peru.
 Herpetologica. 64(1); 121-137. DOI: 10.1655/07-009.1

[Botany • 2016] A Revision of Aeschynanthus (Gesneriaceae) in Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia

 The genus Aeschynanthus Jack is revised for Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia. Four species for Singapore and fourteen species for Peninsular Malaysia are recognised, keys to the species are given, all names are typified, and detailed descriptions of all species are provided. Conservation assessments are provided for all species. Eleven names are lectotypified here and one epitype is designated.

Keywords. Conservation assessments, Didymocarpoideae, identification key, lectotypifications

Aeschynanthus albidus (Blume) Steud.
Aeschynanthus angustifolius (Blume) Steud.
Aeschynanthus dischidioides (Ridl.) D.J.Middleton
 Aeschynanthus fecundus P.Woods
 Aeschynanthus fulgens Wall. ex R.Br.
Aeschynanthus longicaulis Wall. ex R.Br
Aeschynanthus longiflorus (Blume) A.DC.
Aeschynanthus obconicus C.B.Clarke in A.DC. & C.DC.

 Aeschynanthus pulcher (Blume) G.Don
 Aeschynanthus radicans Jack
Aeschynanthus rhododendron Ridl.
 Aeschynanthus speciosus Hook.
Aeschynanthus volubilis Jack
Aeschynanthus wallichii R.Br.

D.J. Middleton. 2016. A Revision of Aeschynanthus (Gesneriaceae) in Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia. Gardens’ Bulletin Singapore. 68(1): 1–63. 

[Botany • 2013] Vanda perplexa • A New Species (Orchidaceae) from the Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia


Vanda perplexa, a new species of orchid from the Lesser Sunda Islands is described and discussed.

Key Words. Blume, Indonesia, orchid, Rumphius, section Deltoglossa, Vanda furva.

Vanda perplexa Motes & D. L. Roberts sp. nov. 

RECOGNITION. Affinity to Vanda limbata Blume but lacking a white margin to the petals and sepals, lip rectangular 12 – 14 mm wide (vs lip narrowly pandurate to 10 mm wide), column cylindrical (vs distinct thickening at base), inflorescence erect and compact (vs long and lax).

DISTRIBUTION. Indonesia: Rinac, Komodo National Park; Bima on Sumbawa, western Nusa Tenggara.

ETYMOLOGY. The specific epithet perplexa refers to the confusion the identity this taxon has created over the past 300 years.

M. Motes and D. L. Roberts. 2013. Vanda perplexa (Orchidaceae): A New Species from the Lesser Sunda Islands.  KEW BULLETIN. 68(2); 337-340. DOI  10.1007/S12225-013-9445-1

New orchid identified from Komodo via @physorg_com

[PaleoIchthyology • 2016] Meemannia eos • The Oldest Actinopterygian Highlights the Cryptic Early History of the Hyperdiverse Ray-Finned Fishes

Meemannia eos 
Life restoration by Brian Choo

• Once considered a lobe-fin, Meemannia is the oldest ray-finned fish
• MicroCT reveals ray-fin characters including lateral cranial and spiracular canals
• Meemannia revises hypotheses of bone histology in the ancestor of bony fishes
• “Cosmine”-like tissues are also present in the ray-fin Cheirolepis

Osteichthyans comprise two divisions, each containing over 32,000 living species: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fishes and tetrapods) and Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes). Recent discoveries from China highlight the morphological disparity of early sarcopterygians and extend their origin into the late Silurian. By contrast, the oldest unambiguous actinopterygians are roughly 30 million years younger, leaving a long temporal gap populated by fragments and rare body fossils of controversial phylogenetic placement. Here we reinvestigate the enigmatic osteichthyan Meemannia from the Early Devonian (∼415 million years ago) of China, previously identified as an exceptionally primitive lobe-finned fish. Meemannia combines “cosmine”-like tissues taken as evidence of sarcopterygian affinity with actinopterygian-like skull roof and braincase geometry, including endoskeletal enclosure of the spiracle and a lateral cranial canal. We report comparable histological structures in undoubted ray-finned fishes and conclude that they are general osteichthyan features. Phylogenetic analysis places Meemannia as an early-diverging ray-finned fish, resolving it as the sister lineage of Cheirolepis plus all younger actinopterygians. This brings the first appearance of ray-fins more in line with that of lobe-fins and fills a conspicuous faunal gap in the otherwise diverse late Silurian-earliest Devonian vertebrate faunas of the South China Block.

Fig.1 Cranial anatomy of Meemannia eos based on High-Resolution Computed Tomography.
A Dorsal view; B Ventral view; C Endocast in dorsal view; D Endocast of Mimipiscis in dorsal view
(Image by LU Jing).

Fig.3 Summary phylogeny, simplified from the strict consensus tree, and the evolution of key Actinopterygian features
(Image by LU Jing).

Jing Lu, Sam Giles, Matt Friedman, Jan L. den Blaauwen and Min Zhucor. 2016. The Oldest Actinopterygian Highlights the Cryptic Early History of the Hyperdiverse Ray-Finned Fishes. Current Biology. DOI:  10.1016/j.cub.2016.04.045 

Oldest Actinopterygian from China Provides New Evidence for the Origin of Ray-Finned Fishes

Min Zhu, Xiaobo Yu, Wei Wang, Wenjin Zhao and Liantao Jia. 2006. A primitive fish provides key characters bearing on deep osteichthyan phylogeny. Nature. 441, 77-80. DOI: 10.1038/nature04563

1st Min Zhu, W. Wang and Xiaobo Yu. 2010. Meemannia eos, a basal sarcopterygian fish from the Lower Devonian of China –expanded description and significance. in D.K. Elliott, J.G. Maisey, X.-B. Yu, D.-S. Miao (Eds.), Morphology, Phylogeny and Paleobiogeography of Fossil Fishes, Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil; 199–214. 

[Paleontology • 2014] Latest Cretaceous–earliest Paleogene Vegetation and Climate Change at the High Southern Latitudes: Palynological Evidence from Seymour Island, Antarctic Peninsula

Fig. 7. Artist's impression of the eastern flank of the Antarctic Peninsula during the Maastrichtian. The vegetation composition and habitat types are based on the nearest living relatives of the terrestrial palynoflora from Seymour Island discussed in this paper. Mixed temperate rainforest grew in the lowlands to mid altitudes composed mainly of a Nothofagus–podocarp–Proteaceae canopy with Lagarastrobus (Tasmanian Huon Pine) occupying the super-wet habitats along riverine margins. Freshwater pools hosted aquatic ferns and green algae with bordering wetlands filled with diverse mosses and ferns. At higher altitudes, open heath-like vegetation may have grown beyond the tree line of montane araucarian forests (detailed in Fig. 8). All fauna are known from the Cretaceous fossil record of the James Ross Basin
( Chatterjee, 1989, Chatterjee, 2002, Case et al., 2000, Case et al., 2003, Case et al., 2007, Clarke et al., 2005, Salgado and Gasparini, 2006, Cerda et al., 2012 and Coria et al., 2013). Artist: James McKay, University of Leeds.  DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2014.04.018

• First quantitative vegetation analysis for the Antarctic during the Maastrichtian
• Terrestrial palynology suggests a temperate rainforest on the Antarctic Peninsula.
• Floral trends were influenced by concurrent changes in temperature and humidity.
• Cool, humid conditions gave way to a warmer climate ~ 2 myr before the K–Pg event.

Fluctuations in Late Cretaceous climate were already influencing biotic change prior to the environmental upheaval at the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) boundary, but their general nature, magnitude and timing remain controversial. A high-resolution dataset on terrestrially-derived palynomorphs is presented from the high southern palaeolatitudes that unlocks details of small-scale climate variability throughout this period of significant global change. Specifically, this is a quantitative spore and pollen analysis of an expanded uppermost Cretaceous to lowermost Paleogene (Maastrichtian–earliest Danian) shallow marine sedimentary succession from Seymour Island, off the northeastern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, then (as now) located at ~ 65°S. Using nearest living relatives the first detailed vegetation, habitat and climate reconstruction is presented for the emergent volcanic arc at this time. On the coastal lowlands, a cool to warm temperate rainforest is envisaged growing in a riverine landscape, with both wet (river margin, pond) and relatively dry (interfluve, canopy gap) habitats. Diverse podocarps and southern beech trees grew alongside angiosperm herbs and shrubs in mean annual temperatures of ~ 10–15 °C. Higher altitude araucarian forests gave way to open ericaceous heathland, beyond the tree line, in subalpine to alpine conditions with mean annual temperatures of a cold ~ 5–8 °C. There is no exact modern botanical equivalent, but the closest modern flora is that of the Andes of southern Chile and Argentina. Maastrichtian climate is shown to have fluctuated from cool, humid conditions, through a rapid warming ~ 2 million years prior to the K–Pg transition, followed by cooling during the earliest Danian, a trend supported by previous work on this interval.

Keywords: Late Cretaceous; Paleogene; Pollen; Palaeoclimate; Palaeoecology; Antarctica

Vanessa C. Bowman, Jane E. Francis, Rosemary A. Askin, James B. Riding and Graeme T. Swindles. 2014.  Latest Cretaceous–earliest Paleogene Vegetation and Climate Change at the High Southern Latitudes: Palynological Evidence from Seymour Island, Antarctic Peninsula. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 408(15); 26–47.  DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2014.04.018

Understanding Earth’s response to a future high CO2 world

[PaleoMammalogy • 2016] Fragilicetus velponi • A New Mysticete Genus and Species and Its Implications for the Origin of Balaenopteridae (Cetacea, Mysticeti)

Fragilicetus velponi 
Bisconti & Bosselaers, 2016

Figure 14. Artistic interpretation of possible interaction between a large shark and Fragilicetus velponi gen. et. sp. nov. as suggested by the shark bite marks on the skull of the holotype specimen. 
The human in the upper right corner serves as a size reference. Illustration by Mark Bosselaers.
 DOI: 10.1111/zoj.12370

A new extinct genus, Fragilicetus gen. nov., is described here based on a partial skull of a baleen-bearing whale from the Early Pliocene of the North Sea. Its type species is Fragilicetus velponi sp. nov. This new whale shows a mix of morphological characters that is intermediate between those of Eschrichtiidae and those of Balaenopteridae. A phylogenetic analysis supported this view and provided insights into some of the morphological transformations that occurred in the process leading to the origin of Balaenopteridae. Balaenopterid whales show specialized feeding behaviour that allows them to catch enormous amounts of prey. This behaviour is possible because of the presence of specialized anatomical features in the supraorbital process of the frontal, temporal fossa, glenoid fossa of the squamosal, and dentary. Fragilicetus velponi gen. et sp. nov. shares the shape of the supraorbital process of the frontal and significant details of the temporal fossa with Balaenopteridae but maintains an eschrichtiid- and cetotheriid-like squamosal bulge and posteriorly protruded exoccipital. The character combination exhibited by this cetacean provides important information about the assembly of the specialized morphological features responsible for the highly efficient prey capture mechanics of Balaenopteridae.  

Keywords: Belgium; feeding behavior; Fragilicetus; phylogeny; Pliocene

Figure 14. Artistic interpretation of possible interaction between a large shark and Fragilicetus velponi gen. et. sp. nov. as suggested by the shark bite marks on the skull of the holotype specimen shown in Figure 3.
The human in the upper right corner serves as a size reference. Illustration by Mark Bosselaers. 

Systematic Palaeontology

Class Mammalia Linnaeus, 1758
Order Cetacea Brisson, 1762
Suborder Mysticeti Cope, 1891
Chaeomysticeti Mitchell, 1989
Balaenomorpha Geisler & Sanders, 2003

Superfamily Thalassotherii Bisconti, Lambert & Bosselaers, 2013
Epifamily Balaenopteroidea Flower, 1864

Family Balaenopteridae Gray, 1864

Fragilicetus gen. nov.

Diagnosis: The diagnosis of Fragilicetus includes the presence of eschrichtiid-like and balaenopterid-like features in the same individual. Fragilicetus is distinguished from the other nonbalaenopterid mysticete families based on the presence, in the same individual, of a squamosal bulging into the temporal fossa; posterior projection of the posterolateral corner of the exoccipital; anterior placement of the posterior apex of the lambdoidal crest; squamosal cleft present and v-shaped (turning ventrally at its lateral end); abruptly depressed and flat supraorbital process of the frontal; anterior portion of temporal crest transversely elongated and forming a dorsal roof to the anterior portion of the temporal fossa; very short intertemporal region; infraorbital region of the frontal exposed dorsally between the ascending processes of the maxillae; anterior end of the parietal located more anteriorly than the posterior ends of the ascending process of the maxilla; descending suprameatal surface from the central portion of the periotic to the superior rim of the internal acoustic meatus; endocranial opening of the facial canal separated from the internal acoustic meatus by a thick crista transversa but not prolonged into a groove; triangular anterior process of the periotic; anterior process of the periotic and central portion of periotic on the same plane; groove for VII cranial nerve in posterior process reduced; anteroposteriorly short and flattened posterior process of the periotic.

Etymology: Fragilis, Latin, fragile, in reference to the extreme fragility of the holotype skull. Cetus, Latin, whale.

Type species: Fragilicetus velponi sp. nov. This is currently the only included species.

Figure 5. Holotype skull of Fragilicetus velponi gen. et. sp. nov. in lateral view. A, photographic representation; B, interpretative representation.
Abbreviations: eam, external acoustic meatus; exo, exoccipital; fr, frontal; max, maxilla; opt, optic channel; par, parietal; pgl, postglenoid process of squamosal; ppp, posterior process of the periotic; pt, pterygoid; soc, supraoccipital; sop, supraorbital process of the frontal; sq, squamosal; sqc, squamosal cleft; vom, vomer; zyg, zygomatic process of the squamosal. Scale bar = 300 mm.

Fragilicetus velponi sp. nov.

Holotype: Item no. NMR 999100007727, housed at the Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam, The Netherlands (hereinafter, NMR).

Type locality: The specimen was found along the south-west border of the Deurganckdock, approximately 12 km north-west of Antwerp city centre and 4 km north of the village of Kallo (Fig. 1). The Deurganckdock is an artificial excavation located on the left side of the Scheldt River. The geographical coordinates of the discovery site are 51°17′05″N, 4°15′30″E.

Etymology: Velpon is the brand of the glue used in the preparation of the holotype skull.

Figure 6. Skull of Fragilicetus velponi gen. et. sp. nov. in anterior view. A, photo; B, line drawing.
Abbreviations: bocc, basioccipital; bs, basisphenoid; desc sop, descending part of supraorbital process of the frontal; fm, foramen magnum; fr, frontal; max, maxilla; par, parietal; pt, pterygoid; soc, supraoccipital; sop, supraorbital process of the frontal; sq, squamosal; sqc, squamosal cleft; vom, vomer. Scale bar = 300 mm.

Figure 3. Localizations and orientations of shark bite marks on the holotype skull of Fragilicetus velponi gen. et. sp. nov. as seen from the anterior view. The shark bite marks are in solid black. The skull is in anterior view; only the right side of the skull is shown because it is that part that bears the shark bite marks.
 Abbreviations: ali, alisphenoid; fr, frontal; pal, palatine; par, parietal; pgl, postglenoid process of squamosal; pt, pterygoid; soc, supraoccipital; sq, squamosal; sqc, squamosal cleft; sq-par, squamosal–parietal suture; sq-pt, squamosal-pterygoid suture; tc, temporal crest; vom, vomer; zyg, zygomatic process of the squamosal. Scale bar = 100 mm.

Figure 14. Artistic interpretation of possible interaction between a large shark and Fragilicetus velponi gen. et. sp. nov. as suggested by the shark bite marks on the skull of the holotype specimen shown in Figure 3.
The human in the upper right corner serves as a size reference. Illustration by Mark Bosselaers.

The new genus Fragilicetus is established based on the new fossil species F. velponi. Fragilicetus is the sister group of later Balaenopteridae; Eschrichtiidae is the sister group of the Balaenopteridae clade. Fragilicetus velponi shares several characters with Eschrichtiidae, e.g. the prominent bulge of the squamosal into the temporal fossa and the posterior protrusion of the posterolateral corner of the exoccipital; it shares with later Balaenopteridae the shape of the abruptly depressed supraorbital process of the frontal, details of the articulation of the rostrum with the frontal, and the shape of the supraoccipital. A phylogenetic analysis revealed that F. velponi is closer to Balaenopteridae than to Eschrichtiidae. The phylogenetic analysis also revealed high levels of homoplasy in the Balaenopteroidea clade but these did not prevent the construction of a highly resolved strict consensus tree. However, the high levels of homoplasy prevent unambiguous diagnoses of the internal nodes of Balaenopteridae. The morphological characters observed in F. velponi showed that the appearance of a wide and flat, abruptly depressed supraorbital process of the frontal and an anteriorly constricted supraoccipital preceded the loss of the squamosal bulge and the loss of strong attachment sites for neck muscles in the evolutionary process leading to the balaenopterid lineage. These characters have functional implications respectively related to the anterior placement of the attachment for the temporalis muscle and to the preservation of a mobile head in the earliest phases of balaenopterid evolution.

Finally, the fossil described in the present paper is a demonstration of direct interaction between sharks and mysticetes in the Pliocene; an illustration of this interaction is shown in Figure 14.

Michelangelo Bisconti and Mark Bosselaers. 2016. Fragilicetus velponi: A New Mysticete Genus and Species and Its Implications for the Origin of Balaenopteridae (Mammalia, Cetacea, Mysticeti). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 177(2); 450–474.  DOI: 10.1111/zoj.12370

[PaleoMammalogy • 2016] Malleodectidae fam. nov. • A New Family of Bizarre Durophagous Carnivorous Marsupials from Miocene Deposits in the Riversleigh World Heritage Area, northwestern Queensland, Australia

Malleodectes mirabilis using its massive, ball-peen-like P3 to break into what were perhaps one of this unique Miocene marsupial’s favourite meals — Riversleigh escargots. 
Illustration by Peter Schouten. DOI: 10.1038/srep26911

A new specimen of the bizarrely specialised Malleodectes mirabilis from middle Miocene deposits in the Riversleigh World Heritage Area provides the first and only information about the molar dentition of this strange group of extinct marsupials. Apart from striking autapomorphies such as the enormous P3, other dental features such as stylar cusp D being larger than B suggest it belongs in the Order Dasyuromorphia. Phylogenetic analysis of 62 craniodental characters places Malleodectes within Dasyuromorphia albeit with weak support and without indication of specific relationships to any of the three established families (Dasyuridae, Myrmecobiidae and Thylacinidae). Accordingly we have allocated Malleodectes to the new family, Malleodectidae. Some features suggest potential links to previously named dasyuromorphians from Riversleigh (e.g., Ganbulanyi) but these are too poorly known to test this possibility. Although the original interpretation of a steeply declining molar row in Malleodectes can be rejected, it continues to seem likely that malleodectids specialised on snails but probably also consumed a wider range of prey items including small vertebrates. Whatever their actual diet, malleodectids appear to have filled a niche in Australia’s rainforests that has not been occupied by any other mammal group anywhere in the world from the Miocene onwards.

Systematic Palaeontology

Subclass: Marsupialia Illiger, 1811
Order: Dasyuromorphia Gill, 1872

Family Malleodectidae nov.

Included genera: Malleodectes Arena et al. (2011)

Familial diagnosis: Medium-sized (~1 kg; see below), durophagous, carnivorously-adapted marsupials that differ from all others in the following combination of features: large, caniniform, laterally compressed C1; narrow, premolariform P1 adpressed against the base of C1; asymmetric P2 with wide, diamond-shaped (in occlusal view) posterior region, posteriorly-sloping crown and low, narrow, attenuated anterior region; uniquely (among known dasyuromorphians) large dP3 (similar in size to M1) with three cusps and a functional postmetacrista; enormous, subrounded, dome-shaped, essentially unicuspid, four-rooted P3 that is wider and longer than M1 and M2 (and probably M3), with (M. moenia) or without (M. mirabilis) a tiny cuspule near the posterior edge of the crown; M1 relatively (compared to M2) hypsodont, longer and wider than M2, with StB and StD directly buccal to the paracone and metacone respectively, StD taller than StB, a deep vertical fissure on the buccal flank of the crown, no anterior ectoloph crest, StE present on posterior ectoloph ridge, poorly-developed straight (M1) centrocrista and no posterior cingulum; M2 more conventionally dasyuromorphian-like with v-shaped centrocrista but with conules better developed than in most undoubted dasyuromorphians.

Etymology: The family name derives from the type genus Malleodectes.

Materials: In addition to specimens noted by Arena et al. (2011) we describe here QM F57925, juvenile cranial material including fragmentary left nasal and? frontal bones and a left maxilla with C1, P1, dP3, P3 crown (unerupted), M1–2, alveoli for P2 and M3. QM F57925 is from AL90 Site, a middle Miocene deposit that has been radiometrically dated as 14.64 ± 0.47 Ma old, and which contains a fauna correlating with mid- to late- Riversleigh Faunal Zone C17,18,19,27. AL90 has been interpreted to be a cave deposit, the original entrance of which acted as a natural pit-fall trap27,28,29.

Estimated body mass: Using the “dasyuromorphian-only” dataset of Myers30, the most accurate regression equation that can be used to calculate body mass for Malleodectes mirabilis is the occlusal area of M2. This gives an estimated body mass (including the smearing estimate) of 896 g.

Description of QM F57925, Malleodectes mirabilis
QM F57925 is identified here as Malleodectes mirabilis and is differentiated from M. moenia based on the following features of P3: absolutely smaller; less rounded; lower-crowned; and lacking a posterior cuspule19. Comparison of P3 with that of the holotype of M. mirabilis (QM F50847) and that which Wroe12 originally referred to Ganbulanyi djadjinguli but which Arena et al. (2011) identified as M. moenia, was enabled through digital extraction of the unerupted P3 from micro-CT images (Fig. 3). All P3s referred here to species of Malleodectes are compared in Fig. 4. P3 of QM F57925 is 5.4 mm wide, 6.7 mm long and most closely approximates P3 in M. mirabilis (5.6 wide; 6.5 mm long) rather than the larger M. moenia (6.5 mm wide; 7.1 mm long).

Malleodectes mirabilis using its massive, ball-peen-like P3 to break into what were perhaps one of this unique Miocene marsupial’s favourite meals — Riversleigh escargots.
Illustration by Peter Schouten.  DOI: 10.1038/srep26911

Although malleodectids are only known on the basis of partial upper dentitions, they clearly represent one of the most distinctive groups of marsupials yet discovered. Because they are known from such limited material and because of the many autapomorphic features they exhibit, relatively few of the preserved features clarify their phylogenetic relationships. The features that are available (most obviously, the larger size of stylar cusp D relative to stylar cusp B on M1–2), suggest, albeit tentatively, that malleodectids are dasyuromorphians. Our phylogenetic analysis confirms this assessment, placing Malleodectes within Dasyuromorphia in a polytomy that also includes dasyurids, thylacinids, the fossil forms Barinya and Mutpuracinus, and the sole known myrmecobiid Myrmecobius fasciatus. In terms of dental function, the well-developed molar dentition of Malleodectes suggests that it ate more diverse foods than just snails. The blades on the molars as well as the wear on anterior teeth suggest that small vertebrates were also part of the malleodectid diet. In combination, the large but laterally compressed C1, laterally compressed, delicate P1, hypertrophied, hammer-like P3 and tribosphenic molars with oblique shearing blades suggest that they occupied a niche in Australia’s Miocene rainforests that no other known mammalian group has managed to occupy since.

M. Archer, S. J. Hand, K. H. Black, R. M. D. Beck, D. A. Arena, L. A. B. Wilson, S. Kealy and T.-t. Hung. 2016. A New Family of Bizarre Durophagous Carnivorous Marsupials from Miocene Deposits in the Riversleigh World Heritage Area, northwestern Queensland. Scientific Reports. 6, Article number: 26911. DOI: 10.1038/srep26911

Remains of bizarre group of extinct snail-eating Australian marsupials d... via @UNSWnews @EurekAlertAAAS

Derrick A. Arena, Michael Archer, Henk Godthelp, Suzanne J. Hand and Scott Hocknull. 2011. Hammer-toothed ‘marsupial skinks' from the Australian Cenozoic. Proc. Roy. Soc. B. 278, 3529–3533.  DOI:  10.1098/rspb.2011.0486

[Invertebrate • 2016] Tritetrabdella longiducta • A New Species of Tritetrabdella (Hirudinida: Hirudiniformes: Haemadipsidae) from northern Indochina

 Tritetrabdella longiducta 
Nakano, Jeratthitikul, Nguyen & Panha, 2016

 A new species of the terrestrial haemadipsid genus TritetrabdellaTritetrabdella longiducta, from northern Indochina is described. The new species is distinguished from all congeners by the combination of triannulate somite VII, uniannulate somite XXV, three lobes of respiratory auricles in somites XXV–XXVII, 57 friction rays on caudal sucker, male gonopore (in somite XI b5/b6) and female gonopore (in somite XII b5) positions and slightly folded vaginal sac. Phylogenetic analyses using nuclear 18S rRNA and 28S rRNA, in addition to mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I markers, confirmed that the new species forms a unique lineage among the known congeners. A key to all the species of Tritetrabdella is provided.

Key words. Hirudinida, Haemadipsidae, Tritetrabdella, phylogenetic analyses, Thailand, Vietnam

Distribution. Known only from the type locality and Ta Co, Son La Province in northern Vietnam (Fig. 1). The elevations of the localities were more than 700 m above sea level. The individual from Doi Phuka was found on soil around a decayed banana tree containing very high moisture.

Natural history. The hosts are not known because the specimens examined were collected free-living, but are presumed to include amphibians (Lai & Chen, 2010). The Vietnamese individual was collected when it was climbing the third author; therefore, mammals may also be hosts of T. longiducta.

Etymology. The specific name is a compound adjective derived from the Latin words, longus (long), and ductus (duct), referring to the fact that the common oviduct of this species nearly equals the length of its vaginal duct, a diagnostic character of the species.

Takafumi Nakano, Ekgachai Jeratthitikul, Tao Thien Nguyen and Somsak Panha. 2016. A New Species of Tritetrabdella (Hirudinida: Hirudiniformes: Haemadipsidae) from northern Indochina. RAFFLES BULLETIN OF ZOOLOGY. 64: 105–116

[Invertebrate • 2013] Tritetrabdella kinabaluensis • Genetics and Morphology of the Genus Tritetrabdella (Hirudinea, Haemadipsidae) from the Mountainous Rain Forests of Sabah, Borneo, Reveal A New Species with Two New Subspecies

Tritetrabdella kinabaluensis  Kappes, 2013

Blood-feeding terrestrial leeches of the family Haemadipsidae are a notorious part of the invertebrate diversity in Asian and Australian rain forests. All hitherto published records of terrestrial leeches of Borneo belong to the genus Haemadipsa. Here, a second, poorly known haemadipsid genus is reported from Mount Kinabalu and Crocker Range National Park. The individuals were barcoded and compared to sequences available in GenBank. The results show that the genus Tritetrabdella has representatives in the Indochinese and the Sundaic bioregions. All six specimens from Borneo are from a single new Tritetrabdella lineage, Tritetrabdella kinabaluensis spec. nov. Within the Bornean lineage, two groups differing 4-5% in the COI barcoding sequence were identified. Because 1) it is probable that haemadipsid COI is subjected to base pair substitution rates of 2.5% per Ma, 2) COI protein sequences were the same within the Bornean material, 3) color can change as a response to the environment, 4) the lineages inhabit different altitudes in separate areas and 5) only six individuals were found, a conservative approach was taken and the groups were tentatively given subspecies status: T. k. kinabaluensis ssp. nov. and T. k. inobongensis ssp. nov. The ecology and the conservation status of the Bornean Tritetrabdella warrant urgent assessment because the genus Tritetrabdella is considered as mainly feeding on amphibians and probably small mammals, and thus can be predicted to be sensitive to climatic fluctuations, forest disturbances and fragmentation, and amphibian decline.

Key words: Annelida, Clitellata, ecological specialization, genetic distance, parasite, phylogeny, speciation, tropical mountains

Fig. 3. Color variation in Tritetrabdella kinabaluensis spec. nov. from the three locations:
a) and b) T. k. inobongensis ssp. nov. from Inobong substation; c) T. k. kinabaluensis ssp. nov. (SP13398) from Gunung Alab; d) T. k. kinabaluensis ssp. nov. (SP13306) from Kinabalu Park Headquarters; e) ventro-lateral closeup of the head region (SP13398, ethanol-preserved); f) comparison of ethanol-preserved individuals (from left to right: SP13398, SP13306, and SP13383; lateral incisions are from tissue removal for DNA extraction). The yellowish color in the preserved SP13306 occurred during ethanol preservation.


Phylum: Annelida
Class: Clitellata
Subclass: Hirudinea

Order: Arhynchobdellida
Suborder: Hirudiniformes

Family: Haemadipsidae Blanchard, 1893

Genus: Tritetrabdella Moore, 1937

Tritetrabdella kinabaluensis spec. nov. (Figs 1-7)
The type of the new species is proposed to be the same as that of its nominal subspecies Tritetrabdella kinabaluensis kinabaluensis ssp. nov., namely, Sabah Parks collection number SP13398.

Tritetrabdella kinabaluensis kinabaluensis ssp. nov. 

Etymology. Named after the sacred mountain, Mount Kinabalu, in Crocker Range, Sabah, Borneo.

 Diagnosis. Dorsum of unstressed individuals creamy-white with three darker, brownish stripes with black border, one median stripe located dorsally, the other two stripes supramarginally on each side (Fig. 3d). Brownish stripes somewhat variable in coloration (Fig. 3): middle field dark brown to median brown, bordered by rather broad blackish lines, loops form ‘bubbles’ or circles which reach the lateral stripes (Fig. 3), lateral

Etymology. Named after the sacred mountain, Mount Kinabalu, in Crocker Range, Sabah, Borneo.

Distribution. So far, only known from two locations, namely Gunung Alab in Crocker Range National Park and Mount Kinabalu Park Headquarters, in Sabah, Borneo, at altitudes between 1500 and 1900 m.a.s.l.

Ecology. So far, only known from cold and moist mossy temperate rain forests on acidic soils, one at an often cloud-covered mountain top. Its host(s) are unknown, but the two specimens somehow were attracted to man.

Tritetrabdella kinabaluensis inobongensis ssp. nov.

Etymology. Named as coming from the Inobong substation in Crocker Range, Sabah, Borneo, where the specimens were collected.

Distribution. So far, only known from the type locality in Crocker Range.

Ecology. So far, only known to occur in low altitude dipterocarp forests. Its host(s) are unknown, but the specimens seemed to be attracted by man.

Heike Kappes. 2013. Genetics and Morphology of the Genus Tritetrabdella (Hirudinea, Haemadipsidae) from the Mountainous Rain Forests of Sabah, Borneo, Reveal A New Species with Two New Subspecies. Contributions to Zoology. 82(4) 185-197.

Friday, May 27, 2016

[Entomology • 2016] Cyana angkorensis • A Review of the Genus Cyana Walker, 1854 (Lepidoptera, Erebidae, Arctiinae) from Cambodia, with Description of New Species

Cyana angkorensis  
Bayarsaikhan & Bae, 2016    DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4114.4.5


Genus Cyana Walker, 1854, with 17 species in Cambodia, is reviewed. Among them, Cyana angkorensis Bayarsaikhan & Bae, sp. n. is described as new to science and 7 species are newly recorded from Cambodia. A key to the Cambodian species of the genus Cyana with illustrations of adults and genitalia is presented.

Keywords: Lepidoptera, Erebidae, Arctiinae, Lithosiini, Cyana, new species, Cambodia

Ulziijargal Bayarsaikhan and Yang-Seop Bae. 2016. A Review of the Genus Cyana Walker, 1854 (Lepidoptera, Erebidae, Arctiinae) from Cambodia, with Description of New Species. Zootaxa.  4114(4)  DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4114.4.5

Thursday, May 26, 2016

[Botany • 2016] Begonia khaophanomensis | ส้มกุ้งเขาพนม • A New Species and A New Record in Begonia sect. Platycentrum (Begoniaceae) from Thailand

ส้มกุ้งเขาพนม |  Begonia khaophanomensis 
Phutthai & M.Hughes


 Begonia khaophanomensis Phutthai & M.Hughes is described from a collection made on granitic rock in Krabi Province in Peninsular Thailand. It is endemic to the type locality of Khao Phanom Bencha National Park, and is assessed as Least Concern using the IUCN criteria. Begonia macrotoma Irmsch. is noted as a new record for Thailand from collections in Chiangmai, Nakhon Ratchasima and Nakhon Nayok provinces; the species is also found in China, Myanmar, NE India, Nepal and Vietnam. Both species belong to Begonia sect. Platycentrum. A key to the species of Begonia sect. Platycentrum in Thailand is provided.

Keywords. Begonia khaophanomensis, Begonia macrotoma, China, Myanmar, NE India, Nepal, Peninsular Thailand, Vietnam

Begonia khaophanomensis Phutthai & M.Hughes, sp. nov. § Platycentrum

Begonia khaophanomensis is similar to B. palmata in habit and leaf shape, but differs in having leaves occurring in opposite pairs at the apex of the plant (not alternate), with white short stiff hairs on the petioles and leaves (not brown sericeous), and a white ovary with white short stiff hairs (not pinkish green and subglabrous). 
– TYPE: Thailand, Krabi, Khao Phanom District, Khao Phanom Bencha National Park, on rock along trail in lower montane forest, 19 June 2006, Williams, K., Pooma, R., Poopath, M., Chamchamroon, V. & Seasin, S. 1943 (holotype E; isotypes BKF). (Fig. 1, 2)

Distribution. Endemic to Peninsular Thailand (known from only the type locality). 

Habitat and ecology. On granitic rock crevices by streams in hill evergreen forest and seasonally dry evergreen forest at c. 1200 m. Flowering and fruiting June to October.

Notes. The opposite leaves and stiff hairs indicate an alliance to Begonia areolata Miq. from Sumatra and Java which differs in having leaves which are minutely bullate and with red hairs, and in having petals which are elongate-elliptic in the male flowers (not broadly elliptic). The specific epithet refers to the district in which the type material was collected, Khao Phanom.

T. Phutthai and M. Hughes. 2016. A New Species and A New Record in Begonia sect. Platycentrum (Begoniaceae) from Thailand. Gardens’ Bulletin Singapore. 68(1): 99–107.

ส้มกุ้งเขาพนม Begonia khaophanomensis Phutthai & M.Hughes จากการศึกษาตัวอย่างในหอพรรณไม้ทั้งในและต่างประเทศ พบแห่งเดียวในโลกที่ เขาพนมเบญจา จังหวัดกระบี่

นักวิจัย"ม.มหิดล" พบพืช 6 ชนิดใหม่ของโลก

[Herpetology • 2016] Chilabothrus argentum • Discovery of A Remarkable New Boa from the Conception Island Bank, Bahamas

Chilabothrus argentum 
 Reynolds, Puente-Rolón, Geneva, Aviles-Rodriguez & Herrmann. 2016

The Bahamas Archipelago is currently known to support three of the 11 recognized species of West Indian boas (genus Chilabothrus) on the Little Bahama Bank, Great Bahama Bank, and four of the southern Bahamas banks. Here we report the discovery of a new species occurring on the Conception Island Bank, located 25 km ENE of Long Island and the Great Bahamas Bank. We describe Chilabothrus argentum sp. nov. (Conception Bank Silver Boa) on the basis of morphometric and genetic data obtained from six individuals. This new boa has a greatly reduced coloration relative to other Bahamian boas, is highly arboreal, and is 3.3% (pairwise) divergent from other West Indian boas in a mitochondrially encoded protein. We estimated a mitochondrial coalescent time of 2.7 million years for this species, and phylogenetic analysis suggests that it is sister to the C. strigilatus/C. striatus/C. exsul clade. The existence of this new boa provides greater resolution of the historical biogeography of the West Indian boas in the Bahamas Archipelago, further supporting multiple colonization of this region from Hispaniola as well as speciation and divergence events dating to the late Pliocene/early Pleistocene. We additionally discuss conservation implications and concerns for this new boa, which we have assessed as being critically endangered on the basis of the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List criteria and hence find it to be one of the most endangered boid snakes globally.

Keywords: Boidae, Caribbean, Chilabothrus, mtDNA, phylogenetics, systematics

The Conception Bank silver boa (Chilabothrus argentum) is named for its color and the fact it was first found on a silver palm tree.

R. Graham Reynolds, Alberto R. Puente-Rolón, Anthony J. Geneva, Kevin J. Aviles-Rodriguez and Nicholas C. Herrmann. 2016. Discovery of A Remarkable New Boa from the Conception Island Bank, Bahamas. Breviora. 549; 1-19. DOI: 10.3099/brvo-549-00-1-19.1 

UNC Asheville Biology professor discovers new species of snake

New Species of Silver Snake Is Extremely Endangered via @NatGeo

Reynolds, R. G., M. L. Niemiller, S. B. Hedges, A. Dornburg, A. R. Puente-Rolón, and L. J. Revell. 2013. Molecular phylogeny and historical biogeography of West Indian boid snakes (Chilabothrus). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 68: 461–470.